|Logging on: A corner at the exhibition Women and Internet: Opportunities and Changes, where visitors read messages from participants involved in the project, which got rural women to go online. — VNS Photo Doan Tung
HA NOI (VNS) — Nguyen Thi Tha took my hands, excitedly showing me a photo of her piggery, which houses 20 animals she cares for herself with information learned online.
The photos are on show at an exhibition called Women and the Internet: Opportunities and Changes, which opened at the Vietnamese Women's Museum here yesterday.
It tells the stories of many women from the northern province of Hung Yen, 30km from Ha Noi, who were given the opportunity to use the internet. It will run until December 17 at the museum, 36 Ly Thuong Kiet Street in Ha Noi.
The exhibition is the culmination of a project launched by the museum in May, with co-operation from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and Finland's Fairspectrum Company.
Officials spent six months in Ban Yen Nhan Town, and Di Su and Nhan Hoa communes, selecting subjects for 30 stories, a short film and photos to display at the exhibition.
Tha, 49, from Ban Yen Nhan Town, said she used the computer primarily to find information online about chicken and pig rearing.
"I was sent to a training class about rearing livestock, but it was not effective, and there were no updates on new disease outbreaks and treatments," she said. "Using information on the internet is much better, because I can learn new techniques and experiences to raise the pigs and protect my livestock better."
Tha's sister-in-law, Chu Thi Man, 42, bought a computer to help her children with their studies in 2010. Before the project, she didn't know how to use a computer.
Man and her family own an area of 1500sq.m, where they grow orchids. Now, thanks to the internet, she has found a wealth of technical information on caring for orchids.
"My husband and I still spend time learning about new orchid varieties, buying new types of plants, and selling plants online," she said.
"We have more customers, including clients in Taiwan and Thailand. Our family income every year is about VND300 to 400 million (US$150,000-200,000)."
The stories and messages shown at the exhibition prove that the women appreciate the internet's advantages. It helps them connect with relatives and children abroad, learn, entertain themselves and care for their families. They also indicate some flaws in the internet, such as sexually suggestive content and scams.
Truong Manh Dung, 58, a turtle breeder from Nhan Hoa Commune, said his wife uses the internet very effectively. They use it to find out about market demand, the price of turtles and techniques for raising them.
"Life is long and there are still many things to learn," he said. "My wife should learn how to help the children filter out bad on-line content."
Heikki Kokkinen, director of the Fairspectrum Company, which also helped with the project, said it was interesting to learn how the internet had changed rural women's knowledge and awareness, even through simple stories of daily life.
"Thanks to internet, they share many difficulties in life and inner feelings," he said. "I think for them, the internet is as necessary as food or water." — VNS